MCSG Observer: LB hears from student liaisons, discusses textbook program

MCSG Observer: LB hears from student liaisons, discusses textbook program

Cal Martinez, Associate News Editor

On Tuesday, March 7, Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) met in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom for their weekly meeting. The Legislative Body (LB) received updates regarding constitutional changes, heard from various student representatives and liaisons and gave feedback on upcoming initiatives.

The meeting began with a presentation from student representative to the Classrooms and Learning Facilities Advisory Committee Sian Lewandowski ’25. Lewandowski shared goals of the committee, highlighting the initiative of acquiring more assistive listening devices in classrooms. 

Afterwards, President Bobbie Pennington ’24 announced the results from the recent student vote to approve or reject amendments to MCSG’s constitution. The amendment to dissolve the Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) and to institute the Cabinet passed with a 107-11 majority, and the amendment to institute the Communications and Engagement Committee (CEC) passed with a 110-11 majority.

Updates from issue-based officers followed this announcement. Sustainability Officer Shaherazade Khan ’23 shared that Sustainability Director Megan Butler had requested for MCSG support in bringing a GreenCorps representative to campus. 

Community Engagement Officer Sofia Vaz ’25 discussed plans for a ‘meet the senior leadership team’ event in the Janet Wallace Fine Arts commons, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 20. She also mentioned that she is working with the Community Engagement Center (CEC) for MCSG volunteering opportunities in the greater Twin Cities community.

The LB welcomed student liaison to the Board of Trustees Rebecca Gentry ’23 to present on updates from the recent Board of Trustees meeting. Gentry shared student concerns voiced by the LB, including desires for a student-centered space, improving Residential Life resources and student engagement with the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees meeting also included discussion surrounding the 150th anniversary of Macalester’s founding, according to Gentry. 

“There’s going to be a big fundraising push that coincides with celebrating [Macalester’s 150th anniversary],” Gentry said. “We are planning for something that coincides nicely with watching the strategic plan, which is already in progress.”

Following, Vice President and SSRC Chair Mathilda Barr ’25 introduced a draft of the SSRC’s spring survey questions for LB feedback. Goals for this survey include assessing what MCSG projects and initiatives students feel most strongly about and MCSG’s role on campus.

Student Organizations Committee (SOC) Chair Eric Yu ’24 introduced three student organizations’ charters: SPACES, Macalester Consulting Group (MCG) and Macalester Pre-Dental Society (MPS). 

SPACES is an organization that promotes art and other works by students of color, holding various events and producing a magazine.

The LB passed the updated charters for both SPACES and MCG unanimously and were unable to view the MPS charter due to technical issues. Representatives will vote on the MPS charter in a future meeting.

Following, Speaker Austin Wu ’23 presented a resolution and a bill for the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) in place of AAC Chair Joel Sadofsky ’25, who was unable to attend the LB meeting due to a monthly faculty meeting. 

In an LB meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Provost Lisa Anderson-Levy announced that Barnes & Noble, which currently provides textbooks to Macalester through the Highlander, is switching to a different textbook model. As Sadofsky explained in an email to The Mac Weekly, this alternative model would add an estimated $320-414 to tuition per semester and provide all course materials through Barnes & Noble. In 2021, Macalester’s senior leadership team rejected a similar model from Barnes & Noble.

The resolution involves requesting that the administration not adopt the Barnes & Noble textbook program. The bill proposes an alternative MCSG-sponsored pilot program, involving buying textbooks for one course for a single semester.

“[We] want to make sure that there’s recognition around really trying to work towards open access to educational resources moving forward instead of this across the board flat rate,” sophomore representative Tristan Niedzielski ’25 said.

The resolution, which Sadofsky intended to serve as a draft, encouraged administration to not adopt this textbook program. After discussing the resolution, the LB voted unanimously to pass the resolution. However, after the meeting, Sadofsky requested that Pennington not yet deliver the resolution to the administration.

“I’m really glad that the LB is supportive of what we’ve been hoping to say in AAC, however it wasn’t my intention to get this passed today, I’m hoping we can spend a bit more time with this draft and make sure we can perfect the language and have the LB buy in, not just as approving votes but as collaborators,” Sadofsky wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. 

The LB will continue reviewing both the resolution and the bill at a later date.

The meeting concluded with an update from the Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) faculty advisor Emi Menk. Menk announced that 51 student organizations had submitted their budgets on Friday, March 3. 15 student organizations that submitted a budget of over $4,000 are required to appear at a future meeting for budget review.